Kapil Dev believes that Ben Stokes is far more capable than many legendary all-rounders who have graced the game. The World Cup-winning skipper also added that England have the ability to win the Champions Trophy due to the massive improvements they have shown as a limited-overs outfit recently.
In the Indian Premier League, Stokes lived up to his hefty price tag and was one of the major architects in Pune's qualification to the IPL playoffs this year. The Englishman amassed 316 runs including one hundred apart from picking up 12 wickets from 11 games, before departing for national team duty following the group stage. His consistent exploits earned him a lot of plaudits and legendary Kapil Dev has become the latest one to shower praise on the youngster.
On being asked to comment on Stokes’ capability, Kapil told The Hindu, “He is far better than Imran, Hadlee, Botham and me. We have to respect these young players. They are better. I don’t think I like to compare, but these boys take more pressure and play more cricket. It’s not easy to play like this across all formats. I will respect them more than us.”
England came close to winning the Champions Trophy twice, both at home, but failed to win on even one, losing to West Indies in 2004 and against India in 2013. However, post the 2015 World Cup debacle, England's limited overs performance have undergone a drastic change and so, Kapil feels this can finally be their year.
Asked about the teams that he is looking forward to seeing in the upcoming Champions Trophy, Kapil said, “I think of England. For the first time in 40 years, England has given me the impression that it is producing players for one-day cricket."
After an exhausting home season which included matches against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh, and Australia, the Indian players took part in the Indian Premier League. Kapil brought up this as the reason he is skeptical about India's chances of winning the quadrennial event but hoped that the Men in Blue can prove him wrong.
“The Champions Trophy is a new tournament at a new place and in a new situation. It’s a new challenge. The Indians are lucky as they have played the IPL which is no small matter. People like R. Ashwin have got enough rest; Jadeja did not play all matches. They must be raring to get back to action," Kapil explained.
“If I look at the Indian team on paper, it looks fantastic, but it would be very unfair... my heart says yes (they can do it again) and my cricketing brain says no.”